Expungement Law Complexity Frustrates Some Who Could Benefit

A new state law allowing some criminals to get their criminal records expunged is so complicated that it’s not working well, opines Wendi Thomas.
Just figuring out who qualifies is a chore.
Tennessee Code Annotated 40-32-101(g) is so narrowly tailored that it says yes to a felon convicted of car burglary but no to someone convicted of getting too rowdy at a funeral.
Most nonviolent offenses committed before Nov. 1, 1989 do, but dozens committed after Nov. 1, 1989 don’t.
Eligible convictions include Class E felonies on the inclusion list or misdemeanors not on the exclusion list.
No sex crimes qualify, which would include the conviction of a driver stopped for playing porn on TV screens inside the car.
Then, there are the costs. The law levies a $350 fee, but there’s another statute that allows the county clerk to charge another $100.
Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, said her office talked to a woman who took out a car title loan to come up with enough money.
“She needed to get this expunged from her record to get employment,” Marrero said.
“When she went there with her $350 in hand, they told her she needed $450. It’s outrageous.”

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